How a Navy Veteran founded The Loading Dock + Murphy’s Naturals


Beryl location | Image via The Loading Dock

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Coworking space The Loading Dock and mosquito repellent maker Murphy’s Naturals are two Raleigh-founded businesses that may seem unrelated at first glance — they actually share a founder, US Navy Veteran Philip Freeman.

If you work out of one of The Loading Dock’s locations or light a Murphy’s mosquito repellent candle on your patio, you’re enjoying the results of Philip looking a challenge head on + coming up with a solution.

Joining the military

In eighth grade, Philip decided he was going to be a Naval officer when he grew up. Not a doctor, not a lawyer, and not even a farmer, as he grew up on farmland in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

When he was in second grade, his oldest brother left home for the Naval Academy. Watching his brother become a deep sea diver and the captain of several ships, Philip knew that’s what he wanted to do. Challenge, accepted.

Philip found his path to the Navy through Virginia Tech’s ROTC, and his dream was complete — he was a Naval officer. Except, the itch to match his brother’s steps of going to deep sea dive school could not be ignored, despite its level of difficulty.

“I knew that it would be unique, and it would be a challenge.” Philip said. “I’m fascinated by what’s below the surface. What can I go see that most people don’t get to see?”

Even though his older brother ensured Philip received special treatment (aka: giving him a hard time) throughout his training, he became a deep sea diver for the Navy.

Founding a business in a garage

After Philip left the Navy, he was working a full-time job and living in Raleigh with his wife Pam. According to Philip, Pam is a “mosquito magnet,” which meant he had to choose between his love of spending time outdoors and his love of spending time with Pam.

However, Philip was not satisfied with giving up either of these options. Welcoming the challenge with open arms, he created Murphy’s mosquito sticks in 2013 — out of his garage.

The idea was to create mosquito repellent products that were natural, of which the market was severely lacking. Eight years later, the company sells candles, sprays, wipes, hand sanitizer, and more.

As it began to grow, Murphy’s quickly outgrew the space in Philip’s garage, and he began to look for warehouse space.

The Loading Dock’s creation

When he found the warehouse where Dock 1053 is now, he decided to lease more space than he needed currently since the business had been rapidly expanding. But, that space still cost money to rent.

In the meantime, he had the idea of renting the extra space out as a coworking space. The idea turned into The Loading Dock, and the coworking space opened in May 2016.

What was supposed to be a way to pay rent turned into a thriving coworking community, and The Loading Dock now has three locations in Raleigh with one about to open in Wake Forest.

As for the warehouse space in the building for Murphy’s Naturals, Philip thought that other companies like his probably had the need for warehousing space like he had. He added co-warehousing to The Loading Dock’s offerings, allowing small businesses + entrepreneurs the space and resources so that they don’t have to operate out of their garages.

Philip still takes on challenges, but in the form of mentoring + giving advice to other Veterans looking to start their own businesses through the Bunker Labs organization.

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